When the pandemic began, many older adults suddenly found themselves separated from their adult children, grandchildren, and other important members of their family. And as the pandemic drags on, it’s been a struggle for many to feel socially connected. Zoom and FaceTime have helped bridge the gap, but only to a point.
Being physically distant from family for such an extended period has been hard on all of us. We miss being in the presence of the people we love, gathering over meals, having fun together, celebrating important family events like birthdays and weddings, or simply enjoying a good hug. (Remember hugs?)
If someone in your family got sick during the pandemic, you may have found yourself unable to be at their side when they needed you most.
Vaccines offering hope but precautions remain
Although vaccinations are bringing us closer to a time when we can be together again IRL (in real life), many public health measures remain in place.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. As of April 2, 2021, they advised: “After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions — like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces — in public places until we know more.”
If you’re visiting someone here at North Chandler Place, there are no restrictions to note for assisted living, memory care, and independent living, but it’s still recommended you practice safe distancing, wear a mask, and postpone your visit if you have any signs or symptoms of illness. If you’re visiting someone in the skilled nursing center, there are some additional requirements.
Fresh ideas for virtual get-togethers
Although restrictions have eased since the early days of the pandemic, we’re still not back to normal. In some situations, we’ll need to continue relying on some of the things that have kept us connected – at a distance – since the pandemic began more than a year ago. That includes virtual get-togethers.
If virtual get-togethers have gotten old for you, you’re not alone. But take heart. You can inject new life into the time you spend with family online by doing a meaningful project together. Here are a few ideas:
- Assemble a collection of family recipes – Certain foods may hold a special place in your family’s hearts. Make sure they get passed down to the next generation. Family Tree magazine discusses how to successfully collect and share family recipes.
- Create a shared family photo album – Have you ever had the experience of looking through a family album and discovering you don’t recognize half the people in it or know where or when a lot of the photos were taken? Assemble a shared photo album by collecting favorite photos from different members of your family. Ask each person to identify who’s in every photo as well as where and when they were taken. Record their answers. You’ll find plenty of options for creating free online photo albums.
- Create an oral history – This is a great way to capture not just your family’s stories but the personalities of the people telling them. Start with the older members of your family and record their stories via Zoom or FaceTime. Litsa Williams, co-founder of What’s Your Grief, offers tips on getting organized, deciding what questions to ask, recording and editing calls, and interviewing family members with memory loss.
Each of these projects leaves a legacy that will outlive the pandemic.
How retirement communities have helped keep residents connected
Staying socially connected is vital to our mental health. That’s why many continuum of care senior living communities like North Chandler Place worked hard to continue offering social and activity programs in a modified format that met physical distancing requirements. Some programs — like exercise classes, lectures, and interest group meetings – moved online. So did visits with family. And because of this, staff took on an important role helping residents who were not familiar with the technology. They also helped residents with memory loss who weren’t able to use the technology on their own.
A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing
Change can be difficult, particularly when you don’t have all of the information to make an informed choice. This is why we put together our Financial Planning for Retirement Living guide, containing everything you need to know about the costs of senior living.